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Penguin guide to Jazz on CD - review

John Butcher

13 Friendly Numbers

A British improviser whose playing is highly accomplished and strikingly individual, Butcher's recital is unlike any other solo-saxophone record. Nine of the 13 tracks are real-time solos on either tenor or soprano, while the other four create some unprecedented sounds and textures through overdubbing: 'Bells And Clappers', for instance, piles up four tenors into a brittle choir of humming overtones that has a chilling, sheet-metal sound, while the amplification introduced into the very brief 'Mackle Music' is peculiarly disturbing.

On the more conventional solo tracks, Butcher's mastery of the instrument creates a vocabulary which can accommodate pieces as disparate as 'Notelet', which is like a single flow of melody, and the explorations of single aspects of performing technique, as on 'Humours And Vapours' and 'Buccinator's Outing'. Assisted by a very clear and suitably neutral recording, this is a masterful record which should be investigated by anyone interested in free playing.